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First Netherlands music venue goes smoke-free

Early adopter De Helling says, with the smoking ban imminent, it made sense to create more space by doing away with its smoking area

By Jon Chapple on 12 Sep 2018

De Helling, Utrecht

image © Cas Boland

De Helling in Utrecht has become the first Dutch popular music venue to completely outlaw smoking on site, following February’s ban on indoor smoking rooms in bars, restaurants and venues.

The 400-capacity venue (pictured) says it will turn its existing indoor smoking area into a second stage, with smokers able to light up outside.

In a statement, a spokesperson explains: “For a long time we have wanted to be more flexible in our venue and we simply ran out of space because of the smoking room.

The 400-cap. venue will turn its indoor smoking area into a second stage

“Moreover, the total ban on smoking areas in venues that serve food and drink is imminent. So, for us, it was a [no-brainer].”

The court of appeal in the Hague ruled on 13 February that indoor smoking rooms are no longer permitted in cafés, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls and other venues where food may be served. Although smoking has been prohibited indoors in the Netherlands since 2008, these venues were previously excluded from the ban – a position the court said violates the United Nations’ framework convention on tobacco control.

The decision was met with dismay by the Dutch Promoters and Festivals Association (VNPF) and Association of Event Producers (VVEM), with the industry associations warning, among other things, that forcing smokers outdoors presents a danger to public safety.


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